[box cover]

Radar Men from the Moon

Oil fields destroyed! Radio towers blown up! Office buildings razed! Whoever could be doing such a thing? Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe (George Wallace) straps on his jet pack, dons his bullet-shaped helmet, and discovers that an evil plan for world domination is taking place… on the moon! This ridiculously silly yet wildly entertaining 12-part Republic serial from 1952 features two-fisted action and great, awful dialogue (Cody: "From what I've learned of the nature of the blasts, they seem more like an atomic ray of some kind. Of course, that's just a guess." Cody's boss: "It's the same guess that we've made — because it's the only possible answer.") Radar Men from the Moon was one of the last great movie serials, incorporating footage from 1949's King of the Rocket Men and adding lots of non-stop action in the form of gun battles, fist fights, trips on spaceships ("Why, you'd hardly know we're moving!" "We are — many miles per minute.") and state-of-the-art special effects. Of course, in 1952, "state-of-the-art" meant cardboard rockets on strings and a trampoline for Cody to jump on whenever he took off with his jet pack in a poof of smoke. Wallace is delightfully wooden as Commando Cody, and the lunar bad guy, Retik (Roy Bancroft), only has two or three henchmen to carry out his plan to conquer Earth — his main henchman being Clayton Moore, later known as The Lone Ranger. Each chapter ends with a suitably spine-tingling cliffhanger from which Cody manages to extricate himself with finesse at the beginning of the next installment — including an airplane crashing into the side of a cliff and exploding (he's real good, that Cody.) Enjoyable on a purely camp level, Radar Men is notable not only as one of the last movie serials but also — with it's moon invasion scenario — as a precursor to the "Red Scare" invasion-themed sci-fi films of the '50s and '60s. The Hal Roach Studios/Image Entertainment DVD release offers a very good restored transfer of material that's been in the public domain for some time — previous VHS and DVD releases of Radar Men have been pretty slipshod, but the transfer here, mastered from original 35mm nitrate negatives, is superb. The sound is equally good, very clean with both the goofy dialogue and heroic theme music distinct and clear. Included are trailers for six other Republic serials. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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